A former Forsyth County fishing guide accused of making fraudulent investment deals and selling boats he did not own will serve at least three years in jail and have to pay restitution to victims.
On Monday, May 17, Bradley Shane Watson pleaded guilty to three charges of felony theft by taking in a pair of cases heard by Hall County Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden.
Watson was first arrested by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in July 2018 after a lengthy investigation. Watson was implicated in theft by deception and fraud cases in Forsyth, Walton, Ware, Banks and Monroe counties, Aiken County, S.C., and the cities of Gainesville, Milton, Roswell and Alpharetta.
Alleged victims told the Forsyth County News that Watson used Craigslist to advertise new Carolina Skiff boats for sale, taking deposits of about $9,000 from people in Georgia and South Carolina.
Each of Watson’s alleged victims say they never received the boats and that within months after securing deposits for boats Watson took thousands of dollars from them under the guise of a legitimate investment deal.
In October 2018, Watson was brought up on additional charges after more alleged victims came forward, and in January 2019, Watson was charged with being in possession of cash and a cashier’s check worth $25,000 which Watson obtained “by deceitful means, by contracting to sell a boat that he did not own and did not have the ability and intent to deliver said boat,” according to court documents. He was also accused of defrauding other victims out of thousands of dollars.
In Hall, Watson received a sentence of 20 years with the first five to be served in jail and the rest on probation in one case and a sentence of 10 years with the first five to be served in jail and the rest on probation in the other. The sentences will be served concurrently, and he will get credit for time served in the Hall County Jail, where he is incarcerated.
Watson will also have to repay a combined $43,400 — $27,000, $7,400 and $9,000 to three separate victims.
Watson and his wife, Pamela Watson, were indicted by a Forsyth County grand jury in mid-August for allegedly taking more than $235,000 from seven victims between February 2016 and December 2017.
Both of their cases are scheduled for a calendar call at the Forsyth County Superior County on Friday, May 21. In 2019, both pleaded not guilty to charges of theft by taking, theft by conversion and deposit account fraud.